<Language> Re: Caucasus and Kaska

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Tue Jan 26 17:59:45 UTC 1999

In a message dated 1/26/99 12:19:34 PM, John McLaughlin quoted M. Hubey:

<<1) frozen accidents (i.e. initial conditions
2) system characteristics
3) external forces

I write this as often as I can, but it does not seem to do anything.>>

[In response John McLaughlin wrote:]
<<Mainly because it means nothing to linguists and real language.>>

Well, to the extent Mr Hubey list does mean something to language, it is
painfully general.

The effect of intial conditions and other external forces on language is a
mighty tall order, involving at the very least all local and general cultural
evidence in any way, shape or form, over a long, long time.

The great thing about linguistics is that it is a narrow but clean and valid
path through that big mess, thanks to the rather consistent ways humans
structure languages. (And thanks to linguists, too, of course.)  It can't
account for everything but it does provide a pretty good amount of
consistency, valid hypotheses and predictability to a difficult subject:
cultural history.

If one is going to examine all the external forces that influenced language in
history, however, it would be best to bring one's lunch.

Steve Long

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